The gallbladder may be small, but it can cause major problems if disease sets in. This small pouch stores bile, which is released to help your body digest fats and absorb nutrients. If a blockage occurs or the organ gets inflamed or infected, this can cause significant pain.
Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, of Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, understands gallbladder issues very well. He is an expert in performing traditional and laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, and in this blog, he explains the signs of a gallbladder attack and how the issue can be treated.
Signs of a gallbladder attack
One of the most common symptoms of a gallbladder attack involves sudden pain, especially in the upper right or center of the abdomen, just below the breastbone. It’s also common for pain to spread from the abdomen into the right shoulder or between the shoulder blades.
Additional signs of a gallbladder attack include:
- Abdominal tenderness
- Dull or cramping pain that worsens quickly
- Sharp and sudden pain that lasts minutes or hours
- Intense pain that makes it difficult to sit still
- Pain that doesn’t change with movement
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever or chills
- Yellowing of the skin and eye
- Dark or discolored urine
- Pale bowel movements
In most cases, gallbladder attacks happen at night and following a large meal. They also occur more frequently in women, people over age 40, and those who are overweight or obese.
When gallbladder attacks require medical attention
People often try to ignore gallbladder pain. However, when you have one gallbladder attack, you’re more likely to have additional problems in the future.
Gallbladder disease can also cause serious health complications, so you should never ignore the pain or try self-medicating to “power through it.” Instead, contact your doctor or seek emergency care if you have the signs of a gallbladder attack, especially if they include intense pain, high fever or chills, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
Treating gallbladder problems
When you have a gallbladder attack, your doctor can help determine the best course of action. For example, if you have a gallbladder attack due to gallstones — which are hard formations that can cause blockages — the stones may be able to pass safely on their own or with medication. However, if you have repeat gallbladder attacks or pain that doesn’t subside, surgery to remove the organ might be your best option.
If removing the organ is the best option, Dr. deVilleneuve performs laparoscopic gallbladder surgery whenever possible. This allows him to remove the problematic organ by making a few small incisions, an approach that comes with fewer risks and faster recovery times.
Dr. deVilleneuve is also skilled with traditional techniques for removing the gallbladder. This is useful if conditions arise that prevent completion of the case laparoscopically. While this is very rare (one open/traditional case in the last decade) it is good to know that your surgeon possesses the skills needed if indicated.
Before making recommendations on the best approach, Dr. deVilleneuve conducts a thorough evaluation to ensure the best outcome.
Have you had a gallbladder attack? Learn more about your treatment options by calling 972-947-2264 or booking an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.